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Germany Stresses Need for Structural Reform

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02/19/2015 | 06:26pm EST

BERLIN--Just hours before the next standoff between Greece and its eurozone creditors is expected to take place, German Deputy Finance Minister Thomas Steffen stressed that structural reforms should be supported in the interest of a strong and successful Europe.

"The examples of Spain, Ireland and Portugal--the three countries most affected by the financial and economic crisis--show that it's possible to pursue far-reaching structural reforms and, at the same time, cut public sector budget deficits in a sustainable way," Mr. Steffen said in the introductory statement of the ministry's February monthly report.

"It's no coincidence that especially these three euro area member states are now showing a clearly positive growth momentum."

Germany has proved to be a tough negotiator in the talks with Greece's new leftist government over easing the Mediterranean country's debt burden and the bailout terms demanded by its European partners.

Berlin's uncompromising position was highlighted Thursday, when Germany turned down Greece's request to extend its current bailout by six months, saying a letter sent to its European partners didn't offer "a substantial proposal for a solution" and instead offered a "bridging loan without meeting the terms of the [bailout] program."

Eurozone finance ministers are expected to meet in Brussels on Friday to discuss the proposal.

Germany insists there won't be a simple extension of the loan program without Greece fulfilling the promised reforms that are part of the current bailout.

The Greek government wants to ease austerity and reduce the country's debt burden, saying the conditions attached to the bailout are hurting its economy and its society. Athens had aimed to convince the country's international creditors to agree to a bridging agreement and has opposed extending the existing bailout terms demanded by European partners.

Greece has received two successive international bailouts since 2010 worth a total of EUR240 billion ($273 billion).

Write to Andrea Thomas at andrea.thomas@wsj.com

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